Publication: Terrorism Focus Volume: 4 Issue: 26


During the Iraq-Iran war of 1980-1988, the Iraqi government created the “Popular Army,” a military contingent consisting of volunteers and commanded by senior Baath Party leaders. The purpose of the formation was to reinforce the army on the field. Recently, however, the former commanders of the Popular Army are being assassinated in Iraq’s central and southern provinces (al-Hayat, August 3). Documents containing lists of the former commanders are being distributed to Shiite militia groups. In addition, commanders suspected of involvement in the 1991 uprising are also being targeted. Al-Hayat quotes Iraqi security sources who allege that “the militias in Basra, Maysan and Dhi Qar Governorates have drawn up lists of the names of 3,000 Iraqis targeted for execution based on mere suspicion and without benefit of trial before a court of law.” According to al-Hayat’s sources, some of the Shiite groups involved in the killings have splintered away from Moqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army and are receiving assistance from Iran.


According to an August 3 report in Asharq al-Awsat, Algeria’s security services are pursuing a new strategy to weaken Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). Instead of focusing exclusively on “launching military operations with heavy weapons against the terrorists’ strongholds,” as stated by one senior Algerian security official, the security services will instead decapitate the organization’s leadership by placing them under “surveillance, pursue [their] every movement and gather information about their movements and meetings exactly in the same way in which they make plans to kill army, police and gendarmerie personnel.” This strategy will “eliminate their influence on less important members who fear being killed at their [AQIM’s leaders] hands if they abandon armed actions.” The new, more intelligence-oriented strategy will utilize a “network of informants who have demonstrated excellent skills in monitoring the criminal elements’ movements and in reporting to the security forces in a timely fashion the places where they operate.” Since al-Qaeda’s merger with the GSPC, Algeria has suffered a series of new terrorist attacks, with the most significant incident occurring on April 11 in Algiers. The alleged mastermind behind that attack, Sid Ali Rachid (also known as Ali Dix), was killed by Algerian security services on July 30 (El Watan, August 2).